In a way, the weekend of July 21 was important for Kollywood. Fresh from a theatre strike over movie taxes, makers and distributors were not sure if the price hike will affect the theatre turnout. But the astounding success of two movies changed that perception for us – one was Pushkar-Gayathri’s Vikram Vedha and the other was Hip Hop Tamizha Adhi’s Meesaya Murukku (MM). The latter’s success is more significant, only due to the fact that it had no big names barring Aadi himself and Actor Vivekh; it held its own ground very well in the BO clash with the Madhavan-Vijay Sethupathi starrer. In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Hip Hop Tamizha’s Adi talks about directorial debut Meesaya Murukku, independent music and much more. Here is the excerpt
The film has received a rousing welcome in the theatres. Did you expect the movie to be this successful?
Honestly, we did not expect to have an opening like this. There is a difference between someone saying ‘the movie is good, let’s watch it’ and ‘the movie has released and let’s watch it’. Also, we expected youngsters to like the movie, it is about them. But, we had lot of families who watched the movie on the big screen and liked it. Another pleasant surprise is that the movie has reached audiences beyond cities. Distributors tell us that the movie has been doing well in the suburbs, towns, and villages.
How much of Meesaya Murukku was based on your personal life and how much of it was ‘colour’ and ‘karapanai’ (imagination) as you term it in the movie?
More than just being Aadi’s story, the way I see it, the movie is the story of every youngster. Many characters are based on real people — for example the five friends from the movie or Sudhakaran Anna. In fact, I had spoken to him recently after 4-5 years. While minor sequences are imaginary, the movie is predominantly based on real incidents. We had to add some ‘colour’ to make it commercially viable.
While a shift from independent music to playback singing and music direction is comprehensible, what prompted your foray into direction and acting?
I was a director and actor right from the start. I had directed the music videos of “Vaadi Pulla Vaadi” and “Takkaru Takkaru” and was featured in the same too. Thus, while directing a film was new, the role itself was not new to me.
To say the things I want to, it would be better if I direct it. I got to express a few thoughts with MM. For example, there was no smoking or alcohol; the idea that education is paramount, no matter however far you go chasing your dreams. I can’t convey the things I wish to express with the roles other directors offer me – it will interfere with their creativity. So, I will keep directing for sure.
You have acted, written the script and dialogues, composed music and also directed Meesaya Murukku. Was it challenging or in a way convenient?
Donning so many hats is incredibly difficult, but this is what our dreams are made of. We have been yearning for recognition and acceptance. It is similar to the story of feeding a hungry lion. For the past one year, I had no time to think about anything else. But a challenge becomes a burden only if it is forced upon you, not when you choose it yourself out of love for the art.
You introduced independent musicians with you music directorial debut Ambala, and now with MM, it is YouTube stars. Is this a trend we can expect from Aadhi?
It wasn’t done as part of a trend. I came from those communities and I just wanted to give something back to them. I am also a YouTuber. In fact, we started using the site when You Tube needed publicity itself. I am an independent musician. I know their struggle; as an independent artist, you don’t get many opportunities to showcase your skills. So I started searching for artistes doing music on the internet — Karishma who sang Kaadhal cricket from Thani Oruvan or Kaushik Krish who lent the voice to Kannala Kannala were such finds. A similar scout happened to find Meesaya Murukku’s cast. Only three of debutants were You Tubers; the rest were street and theatre artists who we spotted at college cultural fests.
We came to know you as an independent artiste. Can we see you anytime soon back in that avatar?
Definitely! Independent music is my passion while cinema is my profession, In fact, a song is in the making right now. We had different professions in mind but chose cinema as this is something we are familiar with. My next will be a web series based on the Tamil language. Titled Tamizhi, it is a documentary series that will talk about the history of Tamil letters with evidence. After that, the music video will be out. I might even quit cinema someday but can never leave independent music behind.
You entered the industry in 2011 and now after 7-8 movies as a music director, how have things changed for you as an artist?
Recognition. I am putting the same effort as I used to earlier. As an independent musician, we couldn’t get our songs aired by television channels and radio stations. We gathered a following from our appearances at college cultural fests. Now, we get to use cinema as a medium. These boys have been with me all this while. MM’s editor is the same person who edited Iraiva. Jeeva, the other member of Hip Hop Tamizha, has also been with me for years now. Life hasn’t changed much.